Mira Nair was born on 15-10-1957 in Rourkela in the state of Odisha, India. She is an Indian-American Film Director, Film Producer, Activist, Writer, Author & Documentary Filmmaker who is best known for her work in Hollywood and Bollywood.
Mira Nair is a renowned Indian filmmaker whose work is famous not just in India but in abroad as well. She after spending her initial years in Bhubaneshwar, relocated to Delhi and then her parents sent her to Simla to study in Loreto Convent Tara Hall, an Irish-Catholic missionary. It was during this time that she developed an interest in English Literature. For graduation, she attended Miranda House in Delhi and majored in sociology. She was awarded a full-time scholarship at Harvard University.
Prior to becoming a filmmaker, she was interested in acting and performed in various plays. She attended theater during her time at Harvard University and for her performance in Seneca’s Oedipus, she won herself a Boylston Prize. Her filmmaker career started with documentaries in which she used to show the Indian culture and tradition. Initially, she made four documentary films like So Far From India, Jama Street Masjid Journal, Children of a Desired Sex, and India Cabaret. After this, she finally made her feature film debut with the film titled Salaam Bombay! in the year 1988. The film boomed at the box-office but won 23 international awards which include the coveted Camera D’or and Prix du Public at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in the year 1989.
Before finally turning a producer with the much-acclaimed film Monsoon Wedding in the year 2001, she directed some acclaimed and controversial films like Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love and The Perez Family among various others. Her other acclaimed films include Queen of Katwe, The Namesake, 11’9″01 September 11, and Hysterical Blindness among others.
On her 64th birthday, we bring to you some interesting facts about Mira Nair:
- She was born in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She studied sociology and theater at Delhi University and got a graduate degree in sociology from Harvard University
- She started her career as a theatre actor in New Delhi while she was studying at the university
- For her thesis at Harvard, she made a documentary titled Jama Masjid Street Journal, which is considered as one of the greatest documentaries made on Muslim traditions
- Through her films, Nair has harped on the gender issues that plague Indian society. Children of a Desired Sex is one her films that shows how the patriarchal society yearns for male child and the burden it puts on the unborn female child
- Her debut feature film Salaam Bombay! was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. The film also won the Camera D’Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival and 25 other international awards
- She has worked with famous Hollywood stars such as Denzel Washington in her film Mississippi Masala and Hillary Swank in Amelia
- The plot of her famous film My Own Country was inspired by Dr Abraham Vaghese’s best-selling namesake memoir
- One of Nair’s most popular movies Monsoon Wedding was shot within just 30 days
- Nair has also directed an HBO original movie titled Hysterical Blindness. The film starred Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis, Gena Rowlands. It became HBO’s most critically acclaimed and highest ratings with 15 million viewers. The film also fetched a Golden Globe for Uma Thurman and 3 Emmy Awards
- Her production house Mirabai Films has set up an annual film laboratory named Maisha, which will support the upcoming directors and artists from East Africa and India. The first Maisha Film Lab has come up in Kampala, Uganda.